QFAA Regulations About Drones?
I am thinking of buying the drone DJI Phantom 2 for my precocious son (we live in California) and I have heard that there are FAA regulations regarding its use and that I may need a permit for it. Could you please let me know if this is the case, and if there is anything else like this that I should be aware of?
Flying a hobby-type drone like the DJI Phantom 2 in California shouldn’t be a problem for you and your son, although there are quite a few regulations you should know to avoid being penalized. The guidelines for drone flying in California (and the US in general) is still a very fresh debate without much structure at the moment, but California legislatures have come up with some basic regulations to ensure the safety and privacy of their residents. But a permit is not yet required to fly a drone within the newly created flight boundaries. The DJI Phantom 2 is a safe and easy drone to get your son up and flying, but supervision is highly recommended, as well as researching the ever-changing laws I’ll briefly detail to you here.
A permit for non-commercial and public drone use is not yet a necessity in the state of California, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has created a few rules to follow when flying drones in your state. I think the most important regulation to educate yourself on is SB 142, which bans trespassing via drones. This law makes it a bit difficult to find the perfect location to fly, since any hobbyist flying a drone is subject to this new privacy law. The law states that drones can not be flown over or in private property without consent of the property owner. If you have your neighbor’s permission to buzz around, you should be able to use the DJI in your backyard without a problem, but if not, a public, open space is going to be the ideal place to fly (California should have plenty of these).
Even if you are not using a camera with the DJI Phantom, you are still technically trespassing by flying your drone through a privately owned area. The law itself states drone trespassing, “operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle below the navigable airspace overlaying the property”, which equates to the illegality of flying your drone over someone else’s property or disrupting their privacy. The law, although slightly strict in my opinion, has been put in place with the good intention of keeping people safe and feeling like their privacy is not being invaded by drone technology.
There are a few other California state drone regulations worth mentioning, including Assembly Bill 2306, which Governor Jerry Brown signed to prohibit “drone paparazzi”. What this bill does is restrict drone users from filming or photographing California’s residents without their permission. In other words, you can’t legally fly around and film unsuspecting subjects, especially in a place like California where privacy is hard to come by for some of the more well-known residents. So basically, what lawmakers seem to be asking from hobbyist drone users is:
A. Don’t trespass on property with your DJI Phantom 2.
B. Don’t photograph or film people without their permission with the DJI camera.
C. Fly in public and open areas that are safe for both the drone and the people around you.
D. Don’t fly above 400 feet, to stop risk of interfering with government aircrafts or commercial airplanes.
So as you can see by now, it seems that discretion while flying is the most important rule when flying in California. A permit may be needed to fly more high-powered and professional drones, but you should be completely within the bounds of the law when flying the DJI Phantom 2 in public places. If you’re set on purchasing the Phantom 2, I have a few suggested additional items to purchase to keep the drone safe and anti-invasive.
The DJI Phantom 2 backpack is a sturdy and safe investment to transport your drone from public area to public area, built to hold the drone and it’s components securely and discreetly. This way, you don’t need to fly it through private property or lug it around by hand to get to an adequate flight location. I would also recommend getting a live-streaming display as well to have a better idea of where your drone is and what it’s camera is or isn’t capturing. The iOSD mini on-sceen display is made especially for the DJI Phantom 2, and allows you to watch and control where you are going on a live display. With this on screen display, it makes the DJI Phantom easier to keep in legal and safe areas, so that you can avoid getting into sticky and dangerous situations.
All in all, if you keep the DJI Phantom out of the backyards and faces of the strangers around you, you should be able to have safe and legal fun in many of California’s beautiful public areas and parks. Your son will really enjoy the DJI Phantom, perfect drone to get a kid excited about flying. If you’re interested in other options, the BLADE 350 QX3 is also great for beginners, and the 3DR IRIS+ works really well with GoPros.